New Report Offers Fresh Perspectives on Protection of Privacy, Security and Intellectual Property on Internet

March 20, 2012  • Institute Contributor

Contact: Sarah Eppehimer
Senior Project Manager
Communications and Society Program

‘Updating Rules of the Digital Road’ recommends new approaches for keeping broadband communications secure, private and protected

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2012 – In a new report issued today, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program unveiled an updated approach for how regulators, businesses and individuals can improve digital security, privacy and the regulation of intellectual property.  The report presents coherent steps to create a trusted and secure online environment while preserving the Internet’s core principles of innovation and liberty. 

Updating Rules of the Digital Road: Privacy, Security, Intellectual Property addresses a wide range of threats that plague the use of today’s communications media and offers a set of recommendations for taking action.  Using the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practices (FIPs) as a starting point, the report isolates emerging issues that require attention.  These include the changing definition of personally identifiable information, concerns about mobile privacy and the misuse and trade of personal data.

“The key element to a robust Internet is to maintain an environment that users can trust,” said Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. “This report suggests a number of measures to increase trust in the areas of security, privacy and property.”

The report is the result of the 26th annual Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy, a private seminar of 38 experts and leaders in communications policy from government, business, academia, and the non-profit sector.  The Conference series examines the technological, competitive, and social issues that are transforming the rapidly changing communications marketplace.

In the security realm, the group recommended a number of private sector solutions including measures to improve third party accountability, facilitate new forms of insurance, increase the costs of bad behavior, improve supply chain security and gateway protocols, and improve consumer ease of use and “digital hygiene.” 

For better privacy protection, the group relied on the Fair Information Practices framework, but suggested that third parties guard against the ability to identify individuals from supposedly aggregated and anonymized data. The group also expressed concerns and recommended actions with respect to mobile privacy and the data collected by data analyzers and brokers. 

And in the intellectual property area, participants agreed on targeting rogue websites, such as Pirate Bay. While participants did not all agree on exact methods, the report cites a number of best practices.  The Conference Report also recommends improving consumer and user education against theft, and encouraging content owners to make digitized content available on more platforms.

In April, the Communications and Society Program will release a comprehensive report of its International Digital Economy Accords (IDEA) Project, a separate endeavor aimed at reassessing global Internet governance. ‘Toward a Common Global Digital Economy’ will explore what global institutions, norms and forums will secure the free flow of communications while protecting individual freedoms.


The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program serves as a non-partisan venue for global leaders and experts to exchange insights on the societal impact of advances in digital technology and network communications. It also creates a multidisciplinary space in the communications policy-making world where veteran and emerging decision-makers can explore new concepts and develop new policy networks. Visit us on the web at and follow on Twitter @aspencs

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